Valley Parents: Randolph finds new ways to engage students

Valley Parents Correspondent
Published: 2/12/2021 11:06:37 AM
Modified: 2/12/2021 11:06:35 AM

RANDOLPH — At Randolph Union High School and Middle School the clubs have gone virtual.

The cooking club that has been led by Head of Lower Grades Lisa Floyd for the past eight years has now become more of a guided meal-kit club, with recipes picked by the students and ingredients packed by Floyd. Each week, Floyd asks the students what they would like to learn to cook and then provides ingredients and instructions to the students on how to make that meal from home.

“It’s been great to hear from parents who are happy to be cooking with their kids,” Floyd said, “but also hearing from students who say they are so glad to cook for their families.”

The club had been held weekly in a classroom with a kitchen where Floyd could demonstrate a technique or assist a student with a dish. The cooking club now meets up virtually in a Google classroom, where they post their final product, critique the recipe and discuss ideas.

Floyd has been using videos from sources including NYT Cooking, from The New York Times, or the You Tube channel Tasty for instructing, but she is prepared to make her own cooking videos if the students choose to make something that does not have an instructional video online.

“I have a tripod and I’m ready to go, if we reach that point,” Floyd said.

Food can be comforting, Floyd said, and making food for others and sharing a meal is even more so. The cooking club has been a way to share that comfort with students. So far, the students have made a tomato, basil, tortellini and kale soup, roasted potatoes and sheet-pan chicken and rosemary focaccia bread.

“It’s definitely different than being in the kitchen all together — and I’m looking forward to that again — but they’re growing in terms of skill in the things that they’ve been wanting to make, and the complexity,” Floyd said. “It’s been really interesting to see how we can still pull this off even with the challenges of the pandemic.”

Striking a chord

For students who are musically inclined and want to share and discuss music with others, seventh grade paraeducator and Randolph Union alumnus Jacob Kaplan began the Sharps, Flats and Naturals: Music Club in early January as a virtual space for students to share a song or two and talk about why they like it. Students can also perform music.

“Most of the time kids share the music that they’re listening to, but we’ve had a couple of kids play instruments,” Kaplan said. “One of the students played an acoustic guitar, we’ve had an electric guitar, another student played a song she learned on saxophone, and it was all by memory, which was awesome.”

With hybrid-learning or at-home schedules, students are unable to have the moments of social interaction when they can share, discover and listen to new music, even if the new music is an unfamiliar oldie.

“Kids don’t get to just mingle with their friends and listen to music in the hallways or meet after school at someone’s house to hang out and talk music,” Kaplan said. “I think it’s important for kids to be able to express their own interests and opinions and be exposed to other interests and opinions and tastes in music.”

A reason for rhymes

When Lizzy Fox became the long-term substitute teacher for seventh grade social studies, she wanted to have a virtual poetry club. Fox, a professional poet, approached librarian Michelle Holder, who had run a poetry club in previous years, about collaborating to revive the poetry club.

“It’s such a huge part of who I am that I want to share with young people, and I know poetry is something that doesn’t get as much time in the academic classroom,” Fox said. “Not because teachers don’t want to put it in, but because it’s not really emphasized in the standards, and it’s decreasingly emphasized in the standards every year.”

Holder, who also advises the manga and anime club, thought that a poetry club could be a good opportunity for students who draw and paint to respond to prompts and showcase their work alongside the written pieces.

“I think that I’ve seen a renewed interest in writing, and I think that comes from some of the books that the kids have been reading in their classes and some of the work that they’ve been doing. ... We have a lot of kids who, now that they’re home in remote learning, love to draw and write. ... We wanted to invite them to be part of the group if they want to.”

Both Fox and Holder said they want the poetry club, which began in the first week of February, to be an outlet for students to present their work with each other and to connect over art.

They also hope to showcase this work in an e-zine or website for both the school and the community.

“It’s harder for kids to have those spaces to show off the work they are producing as writers and artists,” Fox said, “so we want to create that space for them to come together to create and share what they’re doing.”

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